Author : Patricia Stewart, Staff Writer

Captain Goff sat at the head of the conference table. “Well, we find ourselves in a rather precarious situation. The Capellians have seized our ship, as well as the flagship of the Rana. They claim that our war with the Rana has violated their sovereign space. We have been tried, in absentia, in the Capellian Courts, and have been found guilty. According to the Judge, both vessels, including the crew, are to be destroyed. Fortunately for us, however, it appears that our court appointed counsel has done his homework. He appealed the sentence on the grounds of an ancient precedent. If both defendants concur, we can settle our current battle with a one-on-one contest to the death. The survivor’s ship is set free; the other is destroyed. Obviously, this option is better than the original ruling, so I assume the Rana will agree to the fight. What are your recommendations?”

“Captain,” said the first officer, “this sounds like a bad plot from a twentieth century science fiction novel. Surely the Capellians are not serious. This is uncivilized.”

“I’m afraid, Commander, that the Capellians are quite serious, and they have the technological superiority to carry out their sentence. Consider that aspect closed. My primary concern now is figuring out how we can best win the head-to-head conflict. As it stands, the Rana were permitted to choose the weapon. We get to pick the battlefield. Not surprisingly, the Rana chose hand-to-hand combat. I suppose if I had a two inch thick exoskeleton and weighed more than 1000 pounds, I’d choose hand-to-hand combat too. As for the battlefield, the Capellians will recreate any Earth topography we choose. I’m open to suggestions?”

The science officer spoke. “Since the Rana come from an arid world, we need to avoid any rocky, desert terrain. I recommend a cold, icy location. Perhaps, the Siberian Tundra.”

The captain replied, “Too risky. If I die of exposure before my opponent, the Rana will be declared the winner.”

The security officer leaped from his seat. “What? With all due respect, sir, I should be the one fighting the Rana, not you.”

“At ease, Lieutenant,” cautioned the Captain. “I’ll choose the appropriate member of the crew, after I select the most advantageous battlefield.”

“How about a densely wooded area?” suggested the first officer. “They’re too big to maneuver. We’d have an advantage.”

“I thought about that,” replied the captain. “But, it only buys time. Ultimately, I must kill it, or be very confident I can outlive it, which may be tough. I’m sure they require less food and water than we do.”

The tactical discussion continued for several more hours, with no apparent solutions. Finally, an officer of the Capellian court materialized in the room and asked, “Your time is up captain. Have you chosen the battlefield?”

“Yes I have. Let’s get this over with.” He stood up and joined the Capellian, and they both disappeared. The security cursed himself for being too slow to stop the captain from leaving.

Five minutes later, the captain reappeared, soaking wet from the neck down. “Prepare to jump to hyperspace,” he ordered, “before the Capellians change their mind.”

Once the ship was safely away from the Capellian system, the captain relaxed. He turned to his first officer, “I selected the middle of Gulf of Mexico as the battlefield. I guessed correctly that a 1000 pound creature from a dry desert-like planet, didn’t know how to swim.”

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